‘Better Call Saul’: That Scene of Ants On Ice Cream is Swarming With Symbolism About Jimmy McGill’s Current Situation
Every Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fan knows that there’s no such thing as a wasted scene. Even the very small moments in the show often speak to larger truths for anyone willing to look closely enough. One telling scene happened over the course of Episode 2 and Episode 3 of the fifth season of Better Call Saul.
At the end of “50% Off,” Nacho pulls up to Jimmy as he’s walking down the street eating an ice cream cone and insists he get in the car. Cornered, Jimmy is forced to abandon his cold treat by dropping it on the sidewalk.
But that’s not the last we see of the ice cream cone. In fact, the melting ice cream turns into a metaphor for what’s about to happen to Jimmy McGill.
The ice cream cone in ‘Better Call Saul’ plays a significant role
That dropped cone wasn’t forgotten in the next episode. The beginning of “The Guy For This” showed a close-up of the melting cone slowly being devoured by ants. Shot like a nature documentary, with extreme close-ups of the ants swarming the food and extra-creepy ant noises, the audience learns that the ice cream is much more than ice cream.
After Jimmy meets Lalo and forcibly gets recruited to aid the cartel, Nacho drops him off at the same spot where he picked him up. Jimmy encounters his ice cream hours later and sees it covered in ants. He tries to shoo them away for a few seconds before walking off in disgust.
Does the ice cream represent innocence?
There are so many explanations why producers may have chosen to include the ice cream scene. There’s a chance the ice cream, a quintessential representation of child-like innocence, is a metaphor for the goodness still lurking within Jimmy. After getting involved with the cartel, that glimmer of the Jimmy we’ve come to love is being devoured.
We already know what happens to Jimmy McGill — by the time we see him in Breaking Bad, all traces of a moral code have vanished. The ice cream cone represents the Saul Goodman persona devouring Jimmy McGill. Or, it could symbolize the underground world of drug dealing that’s constantly happening in plain sight yet is still hidden from most people’s view.
‘Breaking Bad’ used insects as symbolism, too
One of the most brilliant yet controversial episodes of Breaking Bad was called “Fly.” All the action takes place in Gus Fring’s underground meth lab and centers around Walter White obsessively trying to catch a fly that’s trapped in the lab. Some fans called the episode “boring” in an otherwise dramatic season. But others recognize the episode wasn’t really about a fly. And that annoying little buzzing may have had a lot to do with Walt’s conscience.
“Fly” was critically acclaimed for both the cinematography and for further developing the relationship between Walt and Jesse. Like Jimmy with his dropped ice cream, the fly came to symbolize a deeper truth about the person Walt was becoming.
Soon, Jimmy McGill will fully become Saul Goodman
Jimmy has slowly been transforming into Saul over the past four seasons of the show and soon he’ll fully become the corrupt lawyer we know from Breaking Bad. He’s just like a melting puddle of ice cream that, soon enough, will be completely devoured by ants.
It’s heartbreaking yet inevitable.
See new episodes of Better Call Saul on Monday nights at 9 on AMC.